Health Trust told to improve patient care

THE Northern Health Trust is to put a action plan in place aimed at improving patient waiting times and the overall ‘patient experience’ at Antrim Area Hospital.

The move comes after two independent reports on acute services at the hospital raised a number of serious issues requiring urgent action. The publications highlighted a catalogue of failings in patient care, including the excessive length of time many are forced to wait on trolleys, and criticised the hospital’s bureaucratic culture.

Health and Social Care Board Chief Executive, John Compton, commented: “Both reports highlight a number of serious issues within Antrim Hospital which clearly have had a detrimental impact on some patients’ experiences and care. However, I welcome the key recommendations in the reports aimed at improving the performance of hospital services and also the overall patient journey.

“It is essential that these recommendations are now implemented. We have requested that the Northern Trust put in place a full action plan, which we now have received, to address the issues raised in the report with immediate effect.”

Jim Stewart, Chairman of the Northern Trust, welcomed the reports and gave an assurance that the Trust is committed to improving patient care.

“The challenge for all of us working in health and social care is to strike and maintain the balance between patient expectation and delivering a quality service within the resources we have available,” he said.

Last week, South Antrim MP William McCrea commended staff at the hospital for the manner in which they continue to perform their duties under very difficult circumstances. And he called on the Northern Trust to ensure that staff are given the necessary resources to allow them to deliver a first-rate system of healthcare.

“Those who planned the closure of A&E services at the Mid Ulster and Whiteabbey Hospitals, without first having sufficient bed numbers to cope with the additional capacity being directed to Antrim Area Hospital, did so under the previous Health Minister despite warnings from elected representatives, myself included. Unfortunately, our voices were dismissed and senior management of the Trust heedlessly ploughed on with these decisions to what is now the detriment of patient care.

“The content of these reports must be treated seriously, and having accompanied the Health Minister on recent visit to Antrim Area Hospital, I have asked for an urgent follow-up meeting,” the DUP man said.